John Mark and Melissa Byers
in better days.
John Mark Byers alibi.
following is a comparison of Mark Byers alibi to the
statements of those who could potentially corroborate
it. Mark Byers gave an extensive interview to the police on
May 19, and
this is the basis for much of the timeline presented below. In
contrast, there are only minimal notes for family members of other
victims. Although much of Mark Byer's time is not corroborated,
this is not the same as saying it could not be. For
example, he describes two occasions in which he went to Robin Hood
Woods with Dana Moore, mother of victim Michael Moore, on the night of
the fifth. Although she is his alibi, a detailed accounting of
her evening is not available. Statements that refer to events in
which the person was not present was not considered corroboration.
For example, neighbor recounting Mark Byers saying he
was angry at Chris for breaking into the house is not confirmation
of Chris breaking into house. (Although it is confirmation of
Mark Byers being angry.)
May 5th: 3 pm until dawn May 6th.
3:10 - 3:30 pm Mark Byers statement: Got home from
clinic. Chris didn't have key to house. Mark arranged for
Ryan to let Christopher in the house on days Mark wasn't there. Ryan
wasn't yet there. Corroboration: Ryan notes he got there at
3:38 (referenced below). Chris's grandfather gave this
version: "I was on my way up to the schoolhouse, which was right
near their, you know, when Mark saw me and told me he was going to pick
up Chris by himself." DK, p 312.
3:30 - 3:50 pm Mark Byers statement: Ryan arrives.
Ryan waits with Mark for Chris until 3:50. Corroboration: Ryan
Clark interview notes: "States he got home at exactly 3:38pm. --
Chris was not @ home."
3:50 - 4:50 pm Mark Byers statement: Takes Ryan to
court. Stays at court until 4:50. Corroboration:
Christine Roberts (below). Ryan Clark, interview notes:
"Ryan had to be in court @ 4:00pm. --his dad took him. Dad
dropped him off @ court [no mention of Mark Byers staying with him for
nearly an hour]."
4:50 - 5:10 pm Mark Byers statement: Goes to pick up
Melissa Byers from work in Memphis. Corroboration: Ryan
Clark, interview notes: "[Dad] told Ryan he was going to go pick
his mom up from work and go look for Chris. Notes, Christine Roberts
(neighbor) says: ". . .were at court with Chris father and left
5:10 - 5:30 pm Mark Byers statement: Returns from Memphis
with Melissa. Finds Chris has tried to break into house.
Corroboration: Statement, Ryan Clark: "Dad told him that
Chris had broken a seal on the window to get into the house."
Testimony, Melissa Byers: "Melissa Byers: - And I got home around
5:20 - you know, between 5:00 and 5:30, I got home - sometime - you
know, and I - Fogleman: - And how did you get home? Melissa
Byers: My husband came and picked me up from work." Notes,
Christine Roberts, neighbor: "[Mark Byers, upon returning to
court] saying he was pissed off at Chris about breaking out window +
around 5:30 pm Mark Byers statement: Leaves Melissa, goes
to get Ryan at court. Finds Chris in street on skateboard.
Returns to house with Chris. Punishes Chris "2 or 3
licks." Corroboration: Melissa Byers corroborates
Chris returning to house and punishment by Mark Byers. Melissa
Byers, court testimony: "Fogleman: Ok. And did Christopher
come home? Melissa Byers: Yes, my husband brought him home.
[snip] Fogleman: Did he get spanked? Melissa Byers: Yes he
did, uh Fogleman: Ok. Melissa Byers: He got a good talking
to and then uh - about three swats with a belt 'cause he could have
been run over." Notes, neighbor, friend, Bobby Posey:
"Daddy whipped him + was going run away."
5:30 - 6:00 pm Mark Byers statement: Mark left home to get
stepson Ryan at court. Chris under carport.
Returned with Ryan. Statement, Ryan Clark: said they
returned 5:30 to 6:00, closer to 6:00. Testimony, Melissa Byers:
"Byers: My husband left to go back to court to sit with my son, and
Christopher was given a paper sack to go out under the carport and pick
up paper and stuff. You know, as part of his punishment."
Christine Roberts, notes: "[Mark Byers] returne (sic) [to court]
approx. 6:00 to 6:30 pm Mark Byers statement: Began
looking for Chris around house and calling to neighbors.
Corroboration: Statements, Melissa Byers and Ryan Clark.
6:30 to 7:30 pm Mark Byers statement: Drove around
neighborhood looking for Chris with Ryan and Melissa, streets mentioned
were Ingram, Goodwin, Wilson and McCauley. The only name Mark
Byers gives in this initial hunt is the Garner family. ". . . we
went up to the Garner's house and asked if they knew where Steven
lived. [in JMBs statement it makes clear asking for Steven is in
seeking Chris.]" Statement, Clint Garner and mother:
"[Officer] Ridge: Somebody came by? Garner: Uh, Ryan did.
[snip] Ridge: Okay, and what was it he was talking about when he
came by? Garner: He came by looking for Chris. Ridge: Okay,
about what time do you think that was? Garner: Um, right when it
was getting dark Ridge: Okay, sometime before dark 7:30, would
that sound right to you? Garner: Around in there. Ridge:
How about you Mrs. Garner, is that sound right to you about 7:30?
Mrs. Garner: 7:30 it May Even Be Close to 8. Ridge: You were here
when he came by? Mrs. Garner: Yes sir." Although not in his
statement, Ridge includes Melissa in the investigative report:
"Clint stated that Melissa Byers had brought Ryan to his house and that
the time was about 7:30 pm or just before dark." Mark Byers does
not mention his encounter at the Poseys. Notes, Bobby
Posey: "[following above excerpt] Chris left + dad came to soon +
asked Chris where Chris - on Goodwin + Dad stated going to have to whip
him again." In this time period but not mentioned by Mark Byers, but
Jimmy Sellers stated Mark Byers spoke with police officers outside the
Flash Market at 6:30. Police logs mention two officers there at
that time Meek and Covington. No corroboration of the encounter
at Flash Market from Mark Byers, the officers, Ryan or Melissa.
About 7:30 pm Mark Byers statement: Encountered black officer in
front of Dollar General Store on Broadway. Melissa Byers and Ryan
Clark corroborate this incident. No confirmation from officer or
identification of the officer by name.
Before 8:00 pm. Mark Byers statement: "And it's now, you
know, dark's going to be coming on pretty soon. So I called the
Sheriff's Department, and the guy answered. I told him my situation,
who I was. It was the dispatcher. Just whoever answered at the
Sheriff's Department, which was a little bit before 8 o'clock. And he
said, you need to, he asked me where I lived, and I told him. He said
well, you need to call the West Memphis Police
8:09 - 8:30 pm Mark Byers statement: Called WMPD to inform
them of missing child. Officer Regenia Meek responded. Corroborated by WMPD police log, Officer Regenia
Meek, Melissa Byers, Ryan Clark and Dana Moore.
Shortly after 8:30 pm (indefinite) Mark Byers statement:
Going door to door to find them. Encounters "little boy and girl
that Christopher would play with" (live on 14th) who said "we saw 'em
going in the Robin Hood area." No corroboration or identification of
these two children.
After 8:30 (indefinite) Mark Byers statement:
Mark Byers together with Ryan, encounter Dana and Terry Hobbs outside
Moore's house. All
converged looking in the woods. No corroboration from Hobbs or
Moore. Ryan does not include this in his account. This may
be the same as the following event, described in more detail.
After 8:30 (indefinite) Mark Byers statement: "It's
now probably 8:30. It had got dark. And Terry [Hobbs] said, well, he
was going to spread out down, you know, towards where they were found.
I don't know how far down that way he went, but he was going to look
that way and my son, Ryan and I and Richie Masters, just somehow Richie
Masters showed up to help look. And my son Ryan and I think, Brett
Smith. Richie Masters goes with Brett Smith's sister.* So that's
how they were kind of together. So, we're looking in that area kind of
where the loop is." No corroboration from Terry Hobbs. In
notes from his interview, Richie Masters tell the story of the search
in the Robin Hood Woods [beginning 9:15] including Ryan Clark, Brit
Smith, Robbie Young but leaves Mark Byers out of the narrative.
In the interview notes from the interview of Robbie Young, Young
recounts this search [called at 8:45, searched until 10:00 pm]
including Brit Smith, Richie Masters, Ryan Clark, but does not mention
Mark Byers. In the interview notes of Brit Smith, Brit Smith, his
mother, Richie Masters, Ryan Clark, and Robbie Young are all described
as being in on the search [initiated after an 8:30 phone call from Ryan
Clark]. Mark Byers is not mentioned. Ryan Clark, in his
interview notes, describes the above search including Britt Smith,
Richie Masters, Robbie Young, and Britt Smith's mother [waiting in car
while they searched]. He does not include Mark Byers.
Melissa Byers corroborated a portion of this, although her times are
unclear. She said Ryan Clark, Mark Byers, and her went to the
woods once. She did not enter the woods. *The comment
"Richie Masters goes with Brett Smith's sister [Michelle]"
probably refers to the fact they were dating [confirmed in Robbie
Young's interview notes] not that Michelle Smith was part of the
Approximately 9:00 Mark Byers statement: Mark Byers returns
home after abovementioned search of Robin Hood Woods to change from
shorts and flip-flops to boots and coveralls. Melissa Byers in
testimony corroborated that Mark Byers had been wearing shorts and
flip-flops, although did not describe when he returned to change
clothes: "Davidson: Ok. Uh - do you remember what your husband
was wearing at the time [before getting ready to go to Shoney's]?
Melissa Byers: Shorts. Davidson: Shorts. What kind of
shoes? Melissa Byers: Just like khaki shorts and a t-shirt and
some flip flop things, just like sandals."
Approx. 9:45 - 10:15 pm Mark Byers statement: Mark Byers
returns to searching Robin Hood Hills. Encounters Officer Moore
and they search Robin Hood Hills further. Note: The 9:45 to
10:15 is not from Mark Byers statement but from Officer John Moore's
log and testimony. Corroboration, testimony Officer John
Moore: Fogelman - Alright after taking this report from her
[9:23 on report] did you participate in any of the search?
Officer Moore: Yes sir. Fogelman: Alright and what
involvement did you have in doing that? What did you do? Officer
Moore: Okay, I went down, down the street from Catfish Island to
an area and I met with Mr. Byers and he and I searched an area off
Goodwin Street. From E & B trial: Officer Moore: Uh -
the other officer said that there were some people over on McCauly and
I went over in that area. and did an initial search that night.
[snip as he describes the place while pointing at map] Fogleman: Were
you by yourself in doing that? Officer Moore: No sir, Mr. Byers
was with me."
11 pm Mark Byers statement: Mark Byers returns
home. ". . . it was right at 11. I called Regina Meek, and I asked her,
you know, what the situation was. She said, I'm telling my commander
about it. She said, and he'll inform the next group. [snip] Before I
left the house, I picked up the phone, and I called the Sheriff's
Department the second time." No corroboration from Regenia
After 11 pm, indefinite Mark Byers statement: Mark Byers
and Ryan go in car to back of Blue Beacon Car Wash to area where bodies
were found. Ryan, 14 years old, drives the car. Mark
encounters two black men. Interview notes, Ryan Clark: No
mention of going around Blue Beacon with stepfather. This absence
is all the more strange in that it involves the location where the
bodies were eventually found. In contrast, Ryan makes these
statements (following the abovementioned search of woods with Smith,
Young and Masters: "When they came back out Britt's mother was
waiting on them. They went back to Ryan's house to see if Chris had
came home. They left again and just drove around and looked in a couple
of empty houses. Came home at midnight & his dad made him go to
bed." Ryan's testimony also seems to contradict this: Q.
Did you go on the north side of the ditch? Ryan Clark: Yeah
-- well, I didn’t. My friend Richie did." The two black
men were not identified. This incident is perhaps associated
with this: The following note was filed under Blue Beacon
employees: "Scott Kelin - manager [snip - comment on
gunshot] 10:00 pm Man two young white males stated looking for
son, small car, toyota older model." In court testimony Kelin
said he left work between nine and ten. Note: Byers
automobile was an Isuzu, not an older model Toyota. Finally,
Melissa Byers describes this incident in court testimony even though it
is clear by her testimony that she was not there.
Approximately midnight, indefinite. Statement, Mark Byers:
Mark and Ryan returned to house. 12 to 1 a.m. heard car backfire
on Wilson. Met Steve Branch's grandfather, Dana Moore,
Terry Hobbs and a friend of Terry Hobbs. "So we stood there
talking, then we just went back to the woods and said let's make
another pass through." Potential
corroboration: The midnight meeting is contained in Blood of Innocents (BOI), p. 42
although the source is not given (this book often repeats parts of Mark Byers
statements). The joint trip to the
woods including Byers is not corroborated. Ryan said he was
sent to bed at midnight and did not confirm any trips to the
Robin Hood Woods with Mark Byers.
1:30 to 1:45 a.m. Statement, Mark Byers: Mark and Melissa
encounter "Sgt. Ball." Notes regarding corroboration:
Captain Ball was the CO for the 5/5 11 pm shift. Being the
commanding officer, it is likely he spent most, but not all, of the
evening at the station. In the dispatch logs he is listed with
dispatches at 11:53 pm, 11:57 pm, 12:45 am, 3:26 am and 4:06 am.
And it is possibly to likely that he was out of the station at other
times. There is no statement form Captain Ball confirming this meeting
the Byers. Melissa Byers does not mention this meeting in her
accounts of the evening.
After 1:45 a.m. Statement, Mark Byers: Tony Hudson comes to Byers
house. Mark, Melissa and Hudson go on Service Road to
Mid-Continent Building. No corroboration. No interview of
Tony Hudson. Melissa Byers does not mention this during interview
Probably 2 or 3 o'clock (a.m.) Statement, Mark Byers: Mark
Byers returns home. Tony Hudson leaves to make "a few more rounds
of the neighborhood. And it's probably 2 or 3 o'clock by now. So,
we just sat there waiting for daylight." [preceding quotes from
5/19 statement] Melissa Byers, testimony: "Ford: But I - I
can understand that, but do you know about what time you would have
gone back home from been - you know, as oppose to actually been out
looking somewhere? Melissa Byers: 2- 3:00 in the morning, and
that's just a guess. I have no - I couldn't say for sure."
Until 4:30 am. "I was out looking until 4:30 a.m. I
walked within 10 or 15 feet of where the bodies were found and I didn't
see them," Mark Byers, father of one of the victims said." West
Memphis Evening Times, May 7th, 1993. Note: It is unclear
how Byers knew where the bodies were found to within fifteen feet
inasmuch as the entire area had been cordoned off. The time he
finished searching that night is in contradiction of his 5/19 statement
of searching until "probably 2 or 3 o'clock."
Summary, overview of corroboration.
There are several reasons why the alibi of Mark Byers is anemic.
First, there are a number of people that he specifically describes
being with at key times who give statements recalling the events that
don't include him. These include Clint Garner, Clint Garner's
mother, Ryan Clark, Brit Smith, Robbie Young, and Richie Masters.
And then there are those never identified. The two black men at
the Blue Beacon, the black girl and boy on 14th, the police officer at
the Big Star.
And there are those who either weren't interviewed or else were
interviewed and their statements regarding their interactions with Mark
Byers that night didn't appear in the West Memphis Police Department
documents. These include Dana Moore, Terry Hobbs, Jackie Hicks,
Captain Ball and Tony Hudson.
And finally there are those that were interviewed or testified that
in parts didn't provide much clarity to JMBs whereabouts. These include
Melissa Byers and Ryan Clark.
Guide to the summary given below:
There are different levels of corroboration or contradiction.
Multiple corroboration is when multiple witnesses have provided
statements that are in agreement. This isn't always possible
because sometimes there are not multiple witnesses. Single
corroboration is when at least a single witness corroborates and no
witness contradicts. Potential corroboration is when a witness
gives a statement that may confirm a purported event, but the
discrepancies are such that it may be referring to another event.
No corroboration is when there is no statement that confirms or
denies. Negative corroboration is when statements exist that
should corroborate but the corroboration is noticeably absent.
contradiction is when the statement that could corroborate has a
seeming contradiction. Contradiction is when the statement that
could corroborate contradicts.
Summary of times:
3:30 - 6:30 pm. Corroborated by one or more of the following: Ryan Clark, Melissa Byers, Christine Roberts.
6:30 - 8:00 pm. The general event of driving around the area is
corroborated Ryan Clark and Melissa Byers. The event of
encountering a police officer is corroborated by Ryan Clark and Melissa
Byers but not the police officer. The event of meeting with the
Garners has negative corroboration. Sighting by Jimmy Sellers not
8:00 - 8:30 pm. Meeting with Officer Regenia Meek has multiple corroboration from all parties involved.
8:30 - 9:30 pm. No corroboration for meeting with black children
on 14th Street. No corroboration for meeting with Dana Moore and
Terry Hobbs and going to woods with them. Negative corroboration from
multiple sources for going with Ryan Clark, Robbie Young, Brit Smith,
and Richie Masters to the woods, although Melissa Byers mentions that
Mark Byers and Ryan went to woods with her. She said she did not
9:45 - 10:15 pm. Corroboration for searching area with John Moore.
10:15 - 12:00 am. Negative corroboration/contradiction for
searching Blue Beacon area with Ryan Clark. No corroboration for
contacting Regenia Meek.
12:00 am. Potential corroboration for midnight meeting with other
victims families. No corroboration for searching the woods with
these family members.
12:00 - 2:00 am. No corroboration for meeting with Officer
Ball. No corroboration for going with Tony Hudson and Melissa to
2:00 - 3:00 am. Corroboration by Melissa Byers as to ending
search. Contradiction with earlier statement that he searched
until 4:30 am.
3:00 - 6:00 am. No corroboration, possible contradiction, noted above.
Below is a table of people who encountered Mark Byers that day and
evening, according to Mark Byers. (The exceptions being Bobby
Posey and Jimmy Sellers who stated they encountered Byers). The
corroboration columns only addresses whether they corroborated the
encounter or event with Byers.
||No corroboration / contradiction
||3:38 - 4:00 Meets Mark at home, goes to court.
approximately 5:45 - 6:00 Picked up by Mark from work.
Before 7:30 driving around neighborhood.
7:30 encounter with officer at Big Star.
8:10 - 8:30 Officer Meek, Dana Moore visit.
|8:30 - 9:30 trip to Robin Hood Woods
11:00 pm trip to Blue Beacon
after midnight trip to Robin Hood Woods
||5:10 - 5:45 Picked up from work, Chris returned to house and spanked.
6:00 initial search for Chris. Before 7:30 described trip around
neighborhood. 7:30 encounter with officer at Big Star. 8:10
- 8:30 Officer Meek, Dana Moore visit. Melissa Byers then
described that she sometimes went out searching sometimes waited at
home but gave no specific confirmation of other events in the
search. 2 - 3 am she and Mark Byers finished searching for the
|Did not corroborate visit to Garners.
Did not corroborate visit to Mid-Continent Building with Tony Hudson.
Did not corroborate encounter with Captain Ball.
Seemingly contradicted Mark Byers searching until 4:30 am.
||4:00 - 5:00 at court. Mark Byers returned at 6:30.
||Before 8 pm visit to his house. Byers did not mention in this visit.
||6:30 pm visit to Flash Market. Byers did not mention in this visit.
|Clint Garner and mother
||Before 7:30 visit to Garner house.
|Officer at Big Star
||7:30 pm. unidentified.
|Officer Regenia Meek
||8:10 - 8:30 at Byers household.
||11:00 pm call from Mark Byers.
||8:30 at Byers household
||After 8:30 trip to Robin Hood Woods
After midnight trip to Robin Hood Woods
|Little boy and girl along 14th
||After 8:30 pm. Children never identified or interviewed.
|Brit Smith, Richie Masters, Robbie Young
||8:30 - 10 pm. Describe visit to Robin Hood Woods without including Mark Byers.
|Mother of Brit Smith
||8:30 - 10 pm (same as above). Not interviewed.
||No statement from Terry Hobbs corroborating the following
events mentioned in Mark Byers statement. After 8:30 trip to
Robin Hood. Midnight meeting. Midnight trip together to
|Officer John Moore
||9:45 - 10:15 search around Robin Hood Woods.
|Two black men
||After 11 pm, in back of Blue Beacon. Not identified.
|Steve Branch's grandfather
||Midnight meeting and trip to woods. No statement from Jackie Hicks.
|Friend of Terry Hobbs
||Midnight meeting and trip to woods. Not identified.
||Encounter, 1:30 - 1:45 am. No corroboration.
||Trip to Mid-Continent building at approximately 2:00 am. No interview or corroboration.
Mark Byers, commentary
John Mark Byers